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Cyberextortionists on porn sites are really, really scary

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Watching porn online could lead to something more embarrassing than explaining it to your significant other—your computer might be held hostage.

Hackers are threatening porn-site surfers with "ransomware": the shady characters threaten to take your money to let you access lost data. The messages pop up to make it look like they're from the FBI, warning the users they're doing something illegal.

But it's just a scheme from hackers to funnel money from the clueless. And it's working: According to the Ottawa Citizen, cyberextortion is expected to grow in 2013. 

Kevin Haley of software security creator Symantec Corp. says the hackers force people to buy prepaid debit cards to unlock their computers. The hackers tell the captive users to send the card's PIN to them via the user's keyboard—the only thing not locked down.

And when victims pay hackers their requested ransom, their computers might still stay locked. To remove the viruses, technicians have to wipe the computer clean, erasing the user's data and files.

"These are not honorable people," said Haley, who notes the trend is moving beyond pornographic sites. "Unfortunately, we will see some really diabolical and nasty tricks used to try to force people to pay."

It might not be honorable, but it's netting the cyber extortionists big money. The New York Times said ransomware gangs have earned more than $5 million a year. The plague dates back to 2009, when Eastern European Web users were initially targeted. 

The shadowy gangs, believed to be based in Russia, are moving westward with it and expanding beyond computers. Haley believes Mobile devices are next on the hackers' hit list. 

"People get upset when their computer gets taken over, could you imagine how upset somebody will be if they can’t access their phone? People will pay anything to get their phone back."

Careful, Snapchatters: You might be next.

Photo via hippiegirl46/Hashgram